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Miami’s biggest international trade show for the food industry is about to get bigger

The non-profit World Trade Center Miami has been organizing the Americas Food & Beverage Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center since 1999. Past September 2023, it held its largest edition yet, says WTC Miami President and CEO Ivan Barrios. The 2023 show saw a record crowd of 7,300 people who attended, up from 4,700 who went to the 2022 show. The 2023 event also featured a record 700-plus exhibitors, up from 454 last year.

Now, the World Trade Center-Miami has announced, it is partnering with a key Latin American events group that will add a complementary show expected to bring thousands more professionals to Miami Beach next year. The new show, Food & Hospitality Latam, will expand the industry focus to hotels, and include food equipment and technology. Its organizers aim to mobilize attendees mostly from Brazil, Mexico, and other Latin American countries, supplementing current show participants that come largely from the U.S.

“We’ll probably attract around 30 percent more participants to the combined shows in Miami Beach next year,” says Leonardo Benedicto, the tri-lingual Brazilian who helps lead the Latin American division of global event organizer Informa Markets.”

Turnout of some 9,000 to 10,000 people would build on last year’s record, the partners say. Attendance is open to food industry professionals and not the public at large.

Current participants in the AF&B show are mainly small-and mid-sized firms from some 90 nations that sell food to distributors, supermarkets, and restaurants. Some companies had booths in country pavilions, with the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Spain, and Panama, among them. The show also offered demonstration areas for chefs and mixologists to create treats from diverse items on display.

“We had a hit with Beverage Island, where bartenders used spirits exhibited at the show,” says Barrios. One popular libation: pineapple “caipirinhas,” made with pineapples from Africa’s Benin.

Informa Markets’ Latin American division has also been looking to expand the two food trade shows it organizes yearly in the region: Fispal Food Service in Brazil, which attracts more than 40,000 people, and Abastur in Mexico, which draws nearly 20,000. Informa Markets Latam saw potential to draw participants from other Latin nations, but did not want to organize new shows in each country. So, it looked north and opted to co-produce and co-market with the World Trade Center Miami’s food show, says Benedicto, a tri-lingual Brazilian.

“Miami offers the best logistics for running regionwide events,” says Benedicto, referring to Miami International Airport’s excellent airlinks to Latin America and the Caribbean, its multi-lingual talent, and recent upgrades at the Miami Beach Convention Center that cost more than $600 million.

The initial partnership between the two groups and food shows extends through 2026. Informa Markets hosts other trade shows in Miami through its U.S. division, but now Informa Latam is exploring additional Miami trade show options, as well. “This is just the beginning of a greater partnership,” says Benedicto.

News of the food-show expansion brought smiles to many in Miami. Tourism leaders saw the chance to fill more hotel rooms. And food-show exhibitors had hopes of a wider audience and increased sales. In 2023, Japan’s True World Foods, a wholesaler of fresh seafood, increased its presence at the Americas Food & Beverage Show, offering demonstrations on how to cut bluefin tuna. Says Yas Ishida, a manager at True World’s Miami office: “We’re looking forward to doing something on a bigger scale next year.”

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